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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Irrigon Oregon: 1939

Irrigon Oregon: 1939

October 1939. "Western Pacific line runs through unclaimed desert of northern Oregon. Ten miles from railroad station at Irrigon. Morrow County, Oregon." Photo by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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How Far To The Horizon

I'm in a rush you see
We were to meet by the western sky
My love must be waiting on me.
        Recorded by Jesse Winchester

As noted by Socks below the country has turned a little green since October 1939 when my dear Mom was still carrying me inside of her.


This photo and its comments are case in point why I love this website. I now have "fussy alarm" in my lexicon thanks to davidk. I now know Leucas and I share a fascination with logistical challenges (I used to marvel at the engineering it took to reroute traffic in Boston during the Big Dig). I love PhotoFan's imagination at work here. I know I can call on Timz to give the the location of a gnat on an elephant's behind any given Sunday. And I simply love that you all care about this stuff in any way, because part of me deeply appreciates this too.

The Outback of Beyond

Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.

US 730, a mile northeast of Interstate 84

The landscape of this Columbia River valley area is now densely green with irrigated vegetation; but it looks like this photograph might have been taken from a bridge across the existing railroad tracks along (or close to) highway US 730, just northeast of Interstate 84. The camera would have been pointing approximately "east-south-east". A double "passing track" is now along this view.

Union Pacific

Must be looking ESE from the overpass at 45.84047N 119.61106W. On the second pole is Milepost 167 from Portland.


Reminds me of the statement "Everyone knows this is nowhere"

Geographic Typographic Error

The Western Pacific Railroad did not serve Oregon. The Union Pacific railroad operates along the south bank of the Columbia river and is presumably the subject of this image.


Did 'unclaimed' simply mean there was no known owner of the land in question?

Back up! No, you back up!

I sure hope there's a passing track somewhere along that line...

Supply Lines

It's stunning to think how much of this track had to be laid out on barren areas far from any depot for supplies, water, food, shelter. The logistics and flat-out suffering required to build in such long stretches through land like this is simply staggering.


The horizon is not quite, well, horizontal. Which makes the tracks appear somewhat diagonal. Which obviously sets off the fussy alarm in me.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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